Industry placements – what are they and why are they beneficial to students and employers?
We popped into Spectra, a specialist engineering and coach building company in Westbury, to talk to one of its directors about how he believes they are the best route to finding and training the next generation of engineers.
We also caught up with one of our Level 3 students who impressed the company so much that he has since been offered full-time work over the summer and will continue there throughout the second year of his course.
Industry placements are now a key part of our study programmes at Wiltshire College & University Centre and an exciting opportunity to gain industry experience and develop skills in a real working environment.
Production Director Steve Allberry said the company has taken on students in many different capacities during that time, but that the industry placement has been, in his mind, the most successful for their business.
Steve, who has worked in the industry for 43 years, said: “This has been an excellent route for us, a way of finding students who are genuinely interested and motivated to work in engineering.
“We took on two students – Nathan and Adam – and have been so impressed with them that we offered them both paid work over the summer and permanent positions when the finish college.
“Enthusiasm is so important and they have that in abundance. Everyone is happy to and wants to work with both of them to help them learn about all aspects of the company and what we do.”
Spectra has been employing and developing engineers for more than 30 years to refurbish vehicles, carry out repairs and primarily construct and manufacture bespoke projects.
These include 30 tonne expanding broadcasting trailers, 26-tonne control and command vehicles, specialist fire, police and ambulance builds and the full vehicle spectrum from 3.5 tonne light vehicles right up to 38 tonne semi-trailers and transportable hospitality suites.
Clive Rea, is a coach builder, apprentice and industry placement trainer.
He said: “Giving Nathan and Adam in-house training has enabled us to identify their skills and this benefits them and us.
“Both of them have real potential and never wait around to be told what to do; they are proactive and move from one task to the next without prompting.”
Adam, aged 17, started the Level 3 Engineering course at the Chippenham campus in September.
Since beginning his placement in January, Adam has spent two days a week at Spectra and the rest of the week in college.
Adam said: “I’ve really enjoyed working at Spectra and being able to apply the theoretical skills I’ve learned in college, particularly the physics.
“I was interested in engineering which is why I came to college, but the placement has made me realise what area I want to specialise in.
“I love working practically and on my very first day I was helping to install and lay floors on a vehicle.
“I’ve enjoyed moving around different departments, starting in components where I learned basic skills such as measuring and cutting metal and welding so that I can custom build vehicles.
“I really enjoyed learning to weld; it’s a real skill.
“I’m currently working on a demo vehicle for Porsche which is very exciting.”
For more information about industry placements, whether you are a student or employer, click here